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Used Photography Equipment: Where To Buy It

Updated on November 9, 2010

Good Gear at a Great Store

I rarely write testimonials for businesses. However, I recently purchased a used camera for the second time at B&H Photo. As a matter of fact, it's my second camera I purchased from them in the past 10 years, both from their used department.

If you are on the hunt for good quality gear at affordable prices with amazing expertise about how to use it, the staff in their used department has been fantastic for my needs.

B & H Photo

A pleasant sight indeed!  W.39th Street, NYC
A pleasant sight indeed! W.39th Street, NYC | Source
Inside the guts of B&H..Check out that conveyor belt system. It runs through the entire inside of the store!
Inside the guts of B&H..Check out that conveyor belt system. It runs through the entire inside of the store! | Source
My Rolls Royce Camera that I love! Mamiya RZ67.  Anyone have a  digital back they want to donate?
My Rolls Royce Camera that I love! Mamiya RZ67. Anyone have a digital back they want to donate?
My latest splurge at B&H Photo, A Nikon D3000. A good camera that exceeds my expectations.  There are a few features I'd fix on it, but who's complaining?
My latest splurge at B&H Photo, A Nikon D3000. A good camera that exceeds my expectations. There are a few features I'd fix on it, but who's complaining?

B & H in NYC

Not only is B&H Photo a very cool place to visit because it feels like a theme park run by Hasidic Jews, (Which I refer to as Santa's Jewish Elves because they wear green vests under their bushy beards), but they have EVERYTHING you can imagine for photography and video set ups.

At an early age, my dad used to drag me around to used electronic places and hobby shops. So, I was not surprised in the least at how much knowledge the guys working in the used section of the shop have. They're like walking encyclopedias, and because they don't get any commission, they really aren't out to "make a buck". Instead, they're really into sharing as many details with you about all types of cameras - because they're helpful camera nerds. They've never steered me in the wrong direction. And, they are patient. It took me at least 30 minutes to figure out what SLR meant - the learning curve was great, and they were so nice.

My first purchase was a Mamiya RZ67, which I refer to lovingly as my Rolls Royce. It was given a rating of "9" when sold to me in it's original box. I bought it with a Macro Lens back in 2001. It's my favorite possession. If there was a fire, I'd still run for it after the cat if I could.

Unfortunately, time passes and technology gets better/worse...and now it's very difficult and more expensive to process film for that camera. I did check to see if they had used digital backs for that camera and they didn't. Digital backs for that particular medium format camera run around $20,000. And, to rent one will set me back about $600. Too bad I'm not that rich. (yet?).

In June, I was lucky enough to be back in Midtown Manhattan and visit the candy factory of electronics (They actually do have dishes of sour hard candies like little old Jewish grandparents - I LOVE that!), and gave in to the future of photography. I bought my first SLR camera.

At their counter, I bounced back and forth between buying a Cannon versus a Nikon. I thought perhaps one was more for PC users and the other for Mac users...I'm pretty bilingual on both systems and don't really have a preference (though Mac is sexier to look at), in the end, Nikon won out.

I didn't have the money to purchase the big, big camera that I dream of, and ended up with a D3000. There are more bells and whistles on this camera than I may ever figure out how to use before I upgrade.

The photos I've taken with it are amazing. However, they do appear "digital" and the images exist more in the forefront of the picture-plane with vivid, saturated colors, looking super comparison to the Mamiya, which creates a very fleshy, warm, tonal image of my work because of it's film emulsion.  Perhaps the printing will advance over time to help even those effects out?  I have no idea.  And, to tell the truth, most of my work exists on the web because I'm traveling too much to print on paper these days.

Digital and film are not apples and oranges - they are totally different to the trained eye, or any eye for that matter (I think?). However, both have their place in the visual world and the results of my new camera are growing on me.

The salesman at B&H was totally correct with all of the info he gave me on the camera. He nailed it and I got exactly what I bought.

If you're ever in Midtown Manhattan and want an awesome electronic experience - go visit the elves...they're amazing! Just beware, it's difficult to leave without spending everything in your wallet. 

They do have a website for those that can't make the journey to Manhattan, but it isn't near as much fun.  And, I don't know for sure, but I doubt, that you can purchase used over their website.

As a side note: They have most every camera used, but their stock rotates. The scale is from 5-10. Ten on the scale is pretty much new in the box. They will tell you if the equipment you want has been refurbished, but won't tell you why. There is a warranty for your used purchase, but it doesn't last long. They have limitied used accessories.  Oh yeah, if you need to sell your equipment you can make a bargain with them or trade it in for something else.  However, if you have a digital back for a Mamiya that you want to give away...let me know!


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